We are grateful to the Fundación Guayasamín for their assistance in confirming the authenticity of this work.
Like the Mexican Muralists Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros and José Clemente Orozco especially, from whom he learned much, Ecuador's most noted artist, Oswaldo Guayasamín developed a powerful imagery that conveyed great social themes while remaining thoroughly modern. Guayasamín's use of brilliant colors and bold stylized shapes and forms--even when describing the human body--became trademarks and gained him international critical acclaim. In portraits such as this Study for Cartuchos (from the Huacayñan series), Guayasamín's humanist sensitivity is clearly evident. The sculptural calla lilies behind the young woman form a drape of honor as in the Renaissance paintings of the Madonna. They allude to her purity and innocence; her face is described through the artist's employment of sturdy geometric shapes endowing her with dignity but also gentleness. A great colorist, Guayasamin's rich dark tones such as the reds and browns that mimic the colors of the earth itself, envelop the surface; the dazzling reds, greens, fuchsias of the embroidered flowers of the sitter's blouse animate this otherwise serene study of a young Indian woman who is now rendered eternal.
Oswaldo Guayasamín's prolific trajectory reflected his love for the people of his native Ecuador but ultimately--mankind. Throughout his artistic career, Guayasamín denounced poverty, injustice, hunger, and the ills that trampled on the forgotten ones--those whose voices often go unheard--the poor, the Indians, the powerless. His numerous projects such as La edad de la ira and Huacayñan comprise extensive studies, paintings, and murals depicting themes of everyday life that bear witness to his compassion for the downtrodden but are the essence of his artistic legacy.